Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier and the team's scouting department could see the same physicals skills from players at this week's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., whether the Vikings were coaching the North squad or not. The advantage they get is all the behind-the-scenes and one-on-one access with more than 50 seniors entering the 2012 draft.
Frazier is taking advantage of his ability to both challenge and praise his players on the North squad this week in an attempt to see how they react.
"Say a guy makes a mistake, you get a chance to challenge him on that mistake and then see how he responds. You want to see if he's going to sulk, if he's going to blame someone else or is he going to be a guy who is going to say, ‘I'm going to try to fix that. I'm going to try to get that right.' You want to get a little feedback in that area," Frazier said after Wednesday's practice. "Also, when you pat him on the back, you want to see, how does he respond? Does he get the big head and all of the sudden wants to feel entitled. You don't get a chance to see that when you're doing your interview at the combine or even on some of your pro day workouts. You're asking other people, how are they in some adverse situations? How are they when things are going well? Now, when we're working with them, we can find that out for ourselves. So it's a tremendous advantage in that way."
After a team meeting with the players on Sunday night, film sessions each day, interviews and especially the three practices with them so far, Frazier has found players on both ends of the spectrum. Some are responding exactly as he hoped. With others, the Vikings very well could shy away after seeing how they react to certain coaching cues this week.
"There have been a couple of guys that I've looked at and saw some of the things that have gone on this week where I would say I don't think we'd go down that road with that player. And there are other guys who people have given us some questions marks about where you look and you say, ‘You know what? We could probably work through this,'" Frazier said.
The Vikings are expecting 10 picks in April's draft after compensatory picks are awarded in March. They also know there will be a fair amount of roster turnover with more than a dozen Vikings scheduled for free agency and the need to fill the holes at the starting and second levels of the depth chart.
In fact, Frazier admitted that he tends to keep a close eye at the Senior Bowl on the positions where the Vikings have starters coming up as free agents, as well as positions of weakness on the roster.
"No question, because you could lose guys (in free agency)," he said. "Guys could sign somewhere else so you've got to be prepared if you don't or if you aren't able to keep certain guys. There are certain guys you decide you're really going to cut ties with that you're looking at certain positions. That's what we're doing. We want to evaluate a lot of positions.
"I don't think there are a lot of positions we're going to stay status quo on. We really have to evaluate where we are and where we want to improve. Being here really allows us to identify some guys that may come in and compete for a starting job or even a backup job. That's what we need to find so our roster can be more competitive."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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